After her return from zones, Corazon seemed more subdued. We processed out the prejudice she encountered and she seemed to be ok with it except that she was thrown off by her feelings. I chalked it up to growing up and the progress she is making and we settled in to enjoying the week with C.'s family (who arrived the same day they returned from zones). C.'s youngest brother was getting married and C. was officiating. Of course, Corazon doing well at zone set off Tortuga in a MAJOR way.
We had struggled with Tortuga on the road trip to Boston. Normally the kids travel well until they don't. We have discovered several things that work and don't come back to bite us. For example, watching DVDs in the van keeps them chilled out on the road trip but the dinnertime, hotel time is HELL!!! So we don't do DVDs until the evening time, night driving, or last day or two and then dose them with melatonin and benadryl to make the best of it. Otherwise they travel well because our being cooped up in the van together reduces everyone's anxiety. For Tortuga, the car trip gives him too much time to be a voyeur and watch the other kids. It is a bit creepy for all of us and overwhelming for him. We find that even with an 8 passenger van we have to put him in a row by himself behind the other three who end up cramped in the middle row. That is the best way to give him space and less stimulus. We tried putting him in front of the others but he spent the whole time turning back and making faces/noises/glaring. This works best but doesn't stop his need to try to "catch" them doing something wrong and then getting angry when he doesn't think we have "punished" them for whatever infraction he witnesses or thinks he saw. It's a vicious cycle for him and depending on how much sleep he has had and how he wakes up we all end up at his mercy. It has gotten better over the years but still poses a challenge.
This trip had great anxiety for him because he was conflicted. We haven't been able to see his and Pollito's birth mom in the last 2 years because she sort of "disappeared." Then she resurfaced this year and we have been in contact with her. He is going through a phase where he doesn't want to see or hear from her. When I asked if he wanted to see her he continually changed his mind. I knew the possibility was weighing on him partly because he couldn't make peace with his feelings. He did want to see her but he did not want to see her. So he was going to be anxious either way. Coupled with the fact that Corazon was going to zones, which raises his jealousy and sense of inferiority, we were not off to a good start. By the time we got to Pennsylvania he imploded and acted aggressively toward Corazon and them me. We got to a hotel and couldn't even let him into the lobby. That resulted in him running away from us and hiding nearby. Usually we count on him being afraid of many things to keep him in check. He was a runner from a young age but he was scared to go too far so he usually went no further than a few houses down the street until he got really scared and came home. This time, we figured he would do the same thing. Especially because it was almost evening and it was going to rain.
He's fifteen now and a little more bold. He ran into a nearby wooded area and didn't come when we called him. C. got frustrated and decided to take the other 3 to the swimming pool because they should enjoy the opportunity. While I didn't disagree, I feared it would set him off if he knew. I was right, unfortunately. He saw them through the windows (indoor pool) and that set him off. It was a few hours before he returned and even then he was self-righteous and obnoxious. He was also chagrinned and scared so I was able to take control of the situation to get us through the night. I let him shower (always a calming strategy for him) and he got ready for bed. He had run out of the van before being able to get his backpack so he didn't have anything to "do." Normally I might be invested in him having those things but I felt he needed to feel the impact of his rashness. I was frustrated and angry but did my best to be therapeutic and act out of love not frustration. We got through that and he did well while Corazon was at zones, even helping me paint a room that was a nightmare to clear out.
With Corazon's return his anger was palpable. He couldn't even look at her. All the other kids welcomed her back lovingly and were so happy for her. They congratulated her unprompted. Tortuga would not even look at her and he was itching for a battle. I tried to honor his feeling in anticipation of her return and I tried to give him some strategies that might help him but I knew it was a matter of time.